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Drugs Without the Hot Air: Minimizing the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs
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Drugs Without the Hot Air: Minimizing the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  951 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Winner of:
Transmission Prize for the Communication of Ideas 2014
Highly Commended, Popular Medicine, British Medical Association awards From health to family to society, this informative exploration takes an evidence-based view of all the factors involved in drug use. Applying the same objective criteria to legal and illegal substances, an argument is made that legality is
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 31st 2012 by UIT Cambridge Ltd.
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4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  951 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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Harry Rutherford
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
David Nutt became somewhat famous in the UK when he was chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs [ACMD], the statutory body which is responsible for advising the government on drug policy, and specifically on the appropriate legal classification of different drugs.

He was criticised and eventually fired for being rather too vocal about the fact that the government consistently ignored the advice of the ACMD and allowed political considerations to trump the evidence, and for pointin
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Last week I was on a train with two guys sitting just behind me steadily getting drunk on beer and talking loudly. For the most part I blocked them out with headphones as I was reading, but what I caught of their chat was pretty entertaining. In an entirely serious tone, one guy explained that Nikola Tesla invented a machine to control the weather, which the US government stole and NASA now has. (Presumably NASA lost the manual, hence climate change.) Then they got onto the subject of cannabis a ...more
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having enjoyed a Hay-Festival talk involving David Nutt among others, which discussed the current attitude towards drugs, and whether the "War on Drugs" had failed, I immediately bought and read this book. In that one hour's discussion, I'd found that my attitude towards drug laws had changed significantly from supporting the current emphasis of strong prosecution and imprisonment, to the recognition that if drug abuse was thought of as purely a health issue, the world could be a much better pla ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Guess I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Several months ago I gave this book 4 stars. Since then, I've thought about it so many times and recommended it to so many people that I decided it must merit 5 stars.

The guy expatiates on all my favorite hobbyhorses--but, obviously, in a much more intelligent and insightful way than I ever do when I'm the one riding them. Since I'm not a biochemist, medical professional, or social worker, I can't really analyze his arguments, but they all seem intellectually responsible and on point. My only co
Chris Waterguy
Jun 21, 2012 marked it as to-read
Learned about the book through this review:
Nutt '...recount(s) a call he had with then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who was furious that he'd compared horseback riding harms to the harms from taking MDMA. Smith says that "you can't compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal activity." When Nutt asks why not, she says, "because one is illegal." When he asks why it is illegal, she says, "Because it is harmful." So he asks, "Don't we need to compare
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Completely rethought my view on drugs reading this book. Every claim is backed up by research, every point is well made, and the book flows like a dream.

If you value truth in what you know, then this book is a massive step in the right direction, but be warned, your assumptions about drugs will be challenged.
Giang Nguyen
Yep, it's a textbook for my course but one of the best textbooks ever! I'll totally recommend it to everyone, students, and non-students alike. You will get a glimpse into the scientific, social and political factors surrounding DRUGS.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: college, 2017
The best 'textbook' I've ever read. Truly enjoyed.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Interesting and extremely important book. This should be the textbook for drug education. Nutt clearly cuts through the propaganda and gets to the facts about the real dangers and benefits of various different drugs from an unbiased scientific perspective (oh and that includes alcohol, tobacco and nicotine too!) When read from cover to cover it probably isn't a particularly enjoyable read-especially for someone who's familiar with a lot of the info in here-but when read section by section (each ...more
Adam Golden
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drugs, non-fiction
An insightful and accessible glimpse into the world of drugs; including two of the most common, tobacco and alcohol. As a drug user myself, most of the information in this book was common knowledge, but it's still an important read if you or anybody you know lives a lifestyle which includes taking drugs. All of his findings are backed by mountains of evidence, and covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from addiction and safety measures to common misconceptions of drugs and their diverse
Nov 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Pretty much what the title says. An actual expert scientific investigation of alcohol/drugs and drug policy without a bunch of misleading morality-based bullshit. This is from the guy whose thoughtful and fairly comprehensive analysis produced a list of the top 20 harmful drugs:

Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010s, 2012, 21st-century
A great introduction to the history, make up and effects of the various most popular drugs on the black market (and of course alcohol and tobacco). This book contains the kind of knowledge any adult citizen should have, especially those with children, and I'd recommend anyone with an opinion on drug use, public health or medicine to read it.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do not read this book if you have convinced yourself that drugs are completely bad, prohibition is the only answer and discussion is for wimps, do-gooders and left-leaning trendies.

But, if you've ever wondered why so many senior police officers and politicians have a complete change of heart once they are out of office, then you might find an explanation in these pages.

If you've ever wondered why Nixon's war on drugs, carried on by each president and British prime minister ever since has resulte
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'Drugs Without the Hot Air' should be required reading for parents, teachers, and, perhaps most importantly, politicians who are making the ridiculous, ineffective laws that are fueling, not stopping, the worldwide issues surround drugs. The book is more of an overview, but it's an excellent overview.

This book provides a no-nonsense assessment of our current knowledge about the spectrum of drugs that humans use, and yes, alcohol and tobacco are definitely on that list, not in their own special c
Ozy Frantz
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: government
A very good, evidence-based review of the ways in which modern drug policy is irrational.

Nutt has ranked many commonly taken drugs by how much harm they cause. The five most dangerous are alcohol, heroin, crack, methamphetamine, and cocaine; the five least dangerous are ecstasy, khat, LSD, buprenorphine, and mushrooms. Unfortunately, it was unclear whether he controlled for number of users, which makes an otherwise interesting and informative chapter marred by a possible methodological flaw. He
Laura Shrum
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you want a scientific and unbiased opinion on drugs and drug policy read this book. Actually since drugs impact all our lives in one way or the other I'd highly recommend reading this book. David Nutt breaks down the hypocrisy, the science, the actual health consequences and the political mess that surrounds drug policy in the UK, and wider world. I have a degree in public health so have decent knowledge on drug policy and learned loads from this book. To be fair it is written a bit like a te ...more
Owen Daniel
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, ram-jammed full of facts, stats and logic. A book to be ignored by those in power for the foreseeable future I do not doubt. We live in hope that one day our archaic drug legislation may be based on science, harm-reduction, and research, rather than emotional political whims. A must read for anyone vaguely interested in the subject - or the ludicrous laws that surround it.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A UK-oriented guide to all things drugs. I found it to be seriously comprehensive, fascinating and at times humorous. The chapters were well divided and I liked that the author didn't hold back on his personal views towards the end of each chapter, which prevented it from becoming a dry fact-overloaded book and turned it into a perspective-shifter. Highly recommend!
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Clear, mature, informative, but without the hyperbole- highly recommended to anyone who is curious, bewildered, or prejudiced about drugs. If only our Government was rational and adult enough to deal with this subject in the right way.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Everyone should read this book. There is a lot to digest, only legally in a field, Chapter 14.
The book leaves me with a more balanced view of drugs.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting book with really good facts. Can get a little tiresome to get thru at times, but overall a very good intriguing read
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ibooks-library
Great overview of drugs and society and suggests some good ways to improve the system and stop the war on drugs that is failing.
Micheala O'sullivan
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant read, everyone should have to read it as it’s so eye opening and informative. It’s changed my perspective on the “drugs” issue completely.
Dave Potter
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ironically I found that there was too much hot air in this one.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely essential reading, for everyone.
Savvas Katseas
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ο David Nutt ήταν σύμβουλος της Βρετανικής κυβέρνησης μέχρι που δημοσίευσε ένα άρθρο σε επιστημονική δημοσίευση που -ω, βλασφήμια!- σύγκρινε ελαφρώς χιουμοριστικά τους κινδύνους της λήψης MDMA, γνωστού και ως Ecstasy, με αυτούς της ιππασίας. Όπως ήταν αναμενόμενο, έχασε την θέση του -- μια θέση σ' ένα συμβούλιο που υποτίθεται πως ήταν υπεύθυνο για να ενημερώνει την κυβέρνηση για το ποιες ουσίες είναι επικίνδυνες σε ποιον βαθμό και να αλλάζει την κοινή γνώμη γι' αυτές σύμφωνα με νέα επιστημονικά ...more
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
There are always newspaper stories about drugs in the UK and many of them carry a judgemental tone. David Nutt has written a factual book about recreational drugs based on evidence rather than sentimentality. The book discusses what drugs are, how they work, different types of drugs, the nature of addiction and the most controversial part is the evidence on the relative harm that they do. It is interesting look at how far science should dictate public policy.

Nutt was sacked from the government a
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Many of us in the UK have a strong but vague sense that there's something wrong with current drug policy as practised throughout most of the world. Here, David Nutt, one of the world's top experts on drugs and their harms, gives us the information we need to support that suspicion.

Nutt clearly sets out several important strands that, together, demonstrate the imperative to change the current status quo. Specifically:

-Current drug policy is not evidence-based. In the UK, the agenda is set to a la
Brent Dyer
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is a lot of good, thought provoking information here, but the supporting evidence (at least in the main text) could be better. Providing annotations via end notes does make reading easier, but it also weakens the strength of the argument.

I was also disappointed by the lack of follow up on some important issues like why marijuana is so pervasive in our culture and its role throughout human history. This topic is alluded to, but never developed.

The fundamental premise, however, seems both so
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“Having low numbers of dopamine receptors, for example, is associated with alcoholism and cocaine use.” 0 likes
“The condition that seems to benefit most commonly from the use of cannabis is multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease characterised by fatigue, muscle weakness, incontinence, muscle spasms and chronic pain.” 0 likes
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